Lebanon News

Army arrests Azzam leader

Lebanese soldiers atop an armored personnel carrier patrol the area during a raid in the West Bekaa town of Kamed al-Loz, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014. (The Daily Star/Stringer)

BEIRUT/HERMEL: The Lebanese Army arrested Wednesday a commander in the Al-Qaeda-linked Abdullah Azzam Brigades after raiding a Bekaa Valley residence.

During the raid, the Army also shot and killed a second suspect allegedly involved in aiding the leader of the brigades.

The raid came weeks after the military apprehended the group’s Saudi leader, Majid al-Majid, who died on Jan. 4 from complications arising from multiple illnesses at a military hospital in Beirut, days after his arrest.

The Al-Qaeda offshoot claimed responsibility for the Nov. 19 suicide attacks near the Iranian Embassy in Beirut, which killed 30 people including an Iranian diplomat.

The military said in a statement that Army Intelligence apprehended a commander in the group, identified as Jamal Daftardar, after personnel raided a residence in the Bekaa Valley town of Kamed al-Loz.

Daftardar, who also goes by the name Mohammad Ahmad al-Masri, was considered the main candidate to take over the leadership of the brigades following Majid’s death, a security source told The Daily Star.

Daftardar, who had a Syrian identification card at the time of his arrest, entered Lebanon six months ago after being severely injured in the leg and back, the source said.

Conflicting reports emerged about the nationality of the senior operative. The source said his actual nationality was difficult to discern because of his various aliases.

The Army also said that the intelligence unit shot and wounded another suspect during the raid. The suspect, who threatened intelligence personnel with a hand grenade, later died of his wounds.

A security source, speaking to The Daily Star on condition of anonymity, identified the suspect as Mazen Abu Abbas.

Abu Abbas, along with other accomplices, is believed to have helped transport Majid to a Beirut hospital from the Bekaa Valley, the source added.

The military was unable to interrogate Majid due to his deteriorating health condition.

In its statement, the Army said the arrests came as part of ongoing investigations into a twin suicide attack on separate military checkpoints in the coastal city of Sidon.

Meanwhile, Iran dispatched its Deputy Justice Minister Abdol-Ali Mirkouhi to Lebanon as part of an Iranian delegation to follow up on the investigation into the embassy bombings and Majid’s case.

The Iranian delegation is expected to meet with a number of Lebanese officials.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 16, 2014, on page 4.




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